What. Is. That????
THAT, my friends, is a SCOBY. A Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria Yeast. It's what you need to make a delicious batch of kombucha. And yes, it does look like some kind of crazy alien life form, but not to fear.
This is a project I've been dying to try for quite awhile. I am not the world's most patient person. I am in fact a fan of instant gratification. Waiting for things can be so difficult. And that was true of the homemade kombucha now hanging out happily in my fridge. I waited 10 whole days for it to be ready, and I could have waited even more!
My friend Sonya has been making her own kombucha, and she offered to start a first batch for me. She kindly gave me a SCOBY which is necessary for the fermenting process. Sonya boiled water, steeped some gunpowder tea and dissolved a cup of sugar into it. We poured the tea into two 2 liter jars and let it cool, then added the scoby, which we cut in half. One for each jar. Then, I waited. I waited and waited and waited.
On day 3, the scobys rose to the top of the jars. So far so good. I checked on the mixture everyday to ensure that things were on track. I smelled the jar to make sure it smelled like vinegar, if it doesn't, you should be worried about contamination in your jar and throw it out. So far so good. The scobys grew to the width of the jar opening. On day 10 I couldn't take it anymore. I removed the scobys and saved them in a glass jar with a bit of the kombucha liquid for my next batch. I strained the kombucha into another jar and put it into the fridge to chill.
And it's fantastic! Thanks be to Sonya! I can't wait to start my next batch...which I'd better do quite soon as I'm tearing through the stuff. Perfect on a hot summer day!
You'll need a scoby, try kombucha.org. Or ask around and see if any of your friends are secretly brewing their own. Once your kombucha has fermented, a brand new scoby will form on top of the old one. You can use the new one for the next batch, or give it to a friend. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
1 scoby (if you're filling two jars, cut the scoby in half, one half for each jar)
a clean 5 liter jar (or two 2 liter jars)
3 liters boiled filtered water
6-8 tea bags or the equivalent of loose tea; green, black, or white only
1 cup white sugar
Boil 3 liters of water. Steep the tea for about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and stir with a metal spoon to dissolve. Strain the liquid over your kombucha jar. Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water and add your scoby. Cover the jar with a clean cloth or a paper towel. Your scoby should rise to the top of the jar around day 3. Start checking each day to be sure it smells like vinegar. If it doesn't, throw it out. Taste on day 5, it should be vinegary and slightly sweet. Keep tasting on the following days. You can drink around day 8 and let it steep up to 14 days. It will seem slightly carbonated due to the fermentation. As I said, around day 10 I thought mine was perfect. Strain the kombucha and reserve your scoby. A new one will have formed on top. You can discard the old one and save the new one in a glass jar with a bit of the kombucha liquid to preserve it.